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All In With Chris Hayes

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Russia 34, Ukraine 32, Us 9, Crimea 8, U.s. 8, Kiev 7, United States 7, Nato 6, Vladimir Putin 5, Berlin 5, Milwaukee 5, Europe 5, Phillips 4, Wisconsin 4, Ohio 4, John Husted 3, Walker 3, Obama 3, Moscow 3, America 3,
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  MSNBC    All In With Chris Hayes  

    March 3, 2014
    8:00 - 9:01pm PST  

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>> you can see our complete discussion at the united nations on our website, thelastword.msnbc.com. chris hayes is up next. good evening from new york, i'm credit hayes. tonight all eyes are on the situation in ukraine. a senior obama administration official tells nbc news that president obama has been meeting with his national security council discussing potential options with ukraine. tensions remain extremely high as russia steps up its occupation of crimea, a semi autonomous region located on the black sea in the southern section of the country. russian president vladimir putin shows no sign of backing down, despite mounting pressure from the u.s., nato and the eu. this standoff has escalated incredibly quickly with a steady string of major developments since pro-kremlin forces moved into ukraine last week.
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>> the united states will stand with the international community in affirming there will be costs in any military intervention in ukraine. >> when armed and masked gunmen appeared at the two main airports in crimea friday, the world wondered whether russia had really decided to begin an invasion of ukraine. by saturday morning, that question had largely been answered. >> this morning the occupation moved from airports and military installations into the center of the crimean capital itself. >> russian boots on the ground in ukraine. they're hiding their identities, their uniforms aren't marked. >> vladimir putin turned to a compliant russian parliament saturday to make it official. >> russia's parliament voted to approve the use of a russian force in ukraine. president putin asked for it. he got it unanimously. >> as the united nations huddled in emergency meetings over how to respond, tensions elsewhere in ukraine close to the russian
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border were rising. >> this was the scene this afternoon in ukraine's eastern city of kharkiv where tens of thousands of demonstrators were on the streets. >> more than 100 people were injured saturday in clashes between protesters and supporters of the new government in kiev. one group of hard-core pro-russians stormed the local government building raising the russian flag. >> president obama spent a remarkable, intense 90 minutes on the phone with putin on saturday. by the next day, ukraine's new government had this message for the russian president. >> this is not the threat, this is actually the declaration of war to my country. >> on sunday morning, secretary of state john kerry was on the talk show circuit warning putin he had gone too far. >> this is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. the president is currently considering all options. they're all on the table.
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>> republicans, meanwhile, wasted no time in using the crisis to take pot shots at the president. >> we have a weakened, indecisive president. that invites aggression. president obama needs to do something. >> the international community struggled over how to respond. >> the nato alliance has been meeting in brussels, but with no credible military response available, there were just warnings. >> angela merkel spoke to putin sunday and told president obama she was unsure if the russian president was in touch with reality. germany, the u.s. and the other g-7 nations issued a scathing statement that night, stating that russia was committing a clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of ukraine. meanwhile on the ground in crimea tensions only grew. >> behind the gate, the ukrainian troops are dressed for combat but look bewildered, and no wonder. their country has been invaded, their homeland, crimea, taken over.
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the russians ordered them to lay down their weapons or there would be trouble. minutes later the ukrainian armor was gone. the gate manned by men carrying knives, who looked just as anxious about the enemy facing them. >> vladimir putin stayed silent on ukraine, even as he oversaw live military exercises near st. petersburg, a display that led to newscasts in russia. in washington as john kerry prepared to travel to kiev, president obama warned russia it is on the wrong side of history. >> the steps russia has taken are a violation of ukraine's sovereignty, ukraine's territorial integrity, they're a violation of international law. i think the strong condemnation that it's received from countries around the world indicates the degree to which russia is on the wrong side of history on all this. >> they accused russia of a major conflict as soldiers
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waited for a potential attack from russian forces amassed in the region. joining me from odessa, ukraine, is nicolai petro, a fullbright research fellow in ukraine. i think there's a lot of confusion about how ukrainians are reacting to this. ukrainians is a massive category. that masked a lot of internal divisions. ukrainians in the eastern part of the country that is more predominantly russian speaking, how are they reacting to what has happened? >> with many of the same reactions that people throughout this country are reacting. i would say there have always been those here who feel that the breakup of the ussr was a mistake, but that was a minority. a larger group would welcome close relations with russia, but the largest group has always wanted association with the e.u. people are not welcoming russian
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military intervention on the one hand, but crimea's initiative does seem to have rallied the groups here that are anti-midon to be more active. so i'd say the east and the south do not want to secede. what they seek is a more formal recognition of their rights. so a popular slogan at the rally that was mentioned in kharkiv is, we are not separatists, we are federalists. so in this context being pro-russian doesn't mean joining russia, it means speaking, worshipping and going to school in your own language in your own country, which they want to be ukraine. >> we've seen these -- we've seen footage of pro-russian rallies in different parts of eastern ukraine, some of which have turned violent. what i'm hearing from you is that the folks showing up at that are not broadly necessarily representative of the populations in those areas.
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there's a sort of finer nuance to how they feel about russia, but there is not an active desire to rejoin russia in some sense? >> i think that's right. people here do not want to switch sides or anything, but they do have a concern that the government in kiev is not recognizing their rights as a russian-speaking minority. >> there is a lot of question right now, the russians have made the claim, vladimir putin, state television, that there are essentially vigilante attacks on russian speakers in the east and south of ukraine. sergey lavrov defended russia's action by saying they're defending the fundamental right to light of -- right to life of the ethnic russians in those areas. is there any evidence that that is the case? >> i would not say that the lawlessness that does exist in some major cities is targeted toward russians or russian speakers.
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it's very difficult to distinguish who is russian and who is not. people generally here think of themselves as ukrainians and they can hold multiple identities, both as russians and as ukrainians at the same time. the relationship is so close. so i don't think it's targeted in that way. but there is clearly a spike of disorder and lawlessness that everyone is suffering under. >> nicolai petro, thank you so much for joining me. >> sure. >> joining me now is michael mcfaul, just stepped down last week as u.s. ambassador to russia. he's professor of political science at stanford university. ambassador, what is the next step here? it seems that this has escalated tremendously quickly. what do you see as being the next step either from the u.s., nato and the e.u. or from vladimir putin? >> well, with respect to the
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united states and our allies and the western community, i think the step is to make clear to president putin that there will be costs of a continued occupation of the sovereign country of ukraine, and to make him think about what those costs might be. and to make people around him think about what those costs might be down the road. and to give him the chance to rethink where he's going with his operation in crimia. it's my own view, and i did just step down a few days ago, i was just working in moscow last week, that this is not some master plan that putin has planned out for years and years. this is a reaction from president putin to the fall of his partner, president yanukovych in kiev a few weeks ago. where it ultimately goes i don't think has been decided yet in moscow and therefore i think it is right to put that pressure on and think about where this could really cost russians, including russians very close to president putin. >> what do those costs look like? >> sanctions, freezing assets.
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remember, this is not the soviet union that invaded hungary in 1956 or czechoslovakia in 1968. this russia is fully integrated into the world economy. there are literally billions of dollars owned by russians in banks all over the west. russian investments in the united states, here in the silicon valley. and if you sanction, for instance, the major russian banks and signal that it is no longer advisable to do business with those banks, that will be very costly to many individual russians as well as major russian companies. >> you must have, as the ambassador from the united states to russia, have had interactions that go the following way in which you talk about russia doing something that violates either international law or international norms and they say this is the country that brought us the iraq invasion, this is the country that looked the other way why -- while its
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clients invaded bahrain, how would you respond to that? >> two wrongs don't make a right. president putin has championed in many conversations that i've been present in the idea that sovereignty, territorial integrity, is the most important international norm in the international system. that is an argument i heard for three years when we were discussing syria, for instance. and, you know, what your perspective on that the united states was wrong to go into iraq by the way of view that many americans, including the current president of the united states agrees with does not justify russia going into ukraine. i don't even understand the logic, frankly. if you thought it was wrong then, you should think it's wrong today. >> former ambassador michael mcfaul, thank you for your time. >> thanks for having me. joining me senator chris murphy, democrat from connecticut. traveled to the ukraine with senator john mccain.
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we had you on on friday talking about the unfolding situation. former ambassador just talked about costs. how do you see the possible response here from the u.s.? >> well, i think the key is, is that ultimately this response has to not be unilateral coming from the united states. ultimately about two-thirds of the money that exits russia every year ends up in european economies and in european banks, so it's important that whatever we do here, we do along with our european allies. frankly a lot of us are disappointed in what we've heard from europe so far. i would frankly argue that five years ago it was ridiculous to think that russia was going to invade ukraine, and so it's not so ridiculous to think that five years from now other countries that may be part of the e.u. might be in danger now. i disagree with the former ambassador. i do think this is part of a larger plan of putin to try to re-establish the empire that the ussr once had. whatever we do from a sanctions
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standpoint, has to be done with our europeans or it won't have much of an effect on the decisions that are made on the ground in moscow. >> isn't part of the issue here, though, that if you believe vladimir putin is acting with some sort of plan and acting in an irrational if not amoral sense, it will be worth to bear whatever the cost is because he's made the calculation that this territorial assertion and scaring the ukrainian government into not trying to cross him, the new one, that this is worth bearing the cost? >> i think ultimately this is really bad policy for russia. his plan may be just to simply assert russian power in the region. but he's got to understand the cost that comes to them. they are making themselves a pariah nation. the russian economy is cratering as we speak. ultimately it is true that with full integration right now, the russian economy in europe, some bold and courageous decisions by countries there could send that economy into an absolute
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freefall and they're not in a really strong position to begin with. the strength of their economy has been always dependent on russian oil. europe is starting to diversify. they're only forecasting about 1% growth next year. they are not really in a position to withstand a big economic hit. and my hope is that our european allies will stand with us because we can deliver it to them and do it pretty quickly. >> isn't part of a peaceful resolution to this crisis that results in the territorial integrity of the ukraine being maintained giving some kind of face-saving climbdown for vladimir putin who does not strike me as the sort of leader who will basically say hey, my bad, made a mistake on this one, can i take a mulligan. >> and i think we're delivering that to them. the pretext for this whole invasion is that russians are in danger. well, to the extent that russians are in danger in crimea it's only because their own country has invaded, downgrading the security of their neighborhoods. there are other ways to guarantee that security whether it's a u.n. force, there are
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other ways to guarantee the safety of their security. i think one important thing to note here is that you can't equate people who speak russian with people who sympathize with russia. there are a lot of russian speakers in crimea but there are also a lot of russian speakers in kiev and brighton beach. that doesn't mean during a political turmoil you get the ability to invade. ultimately i think there's a way to address the concerns, illegitimate as they are, that some of his folks are in danger with a multi lateral effort. >> and also the precedent that's being here asserted by the putin government and sergey lavrov, which is basically the prerogative to invade a country if they feel that ethnic russians are under threat is a terrifying one for many of russia's neighbors who obviously have large populations of russian speakers. >> and again, that's why i think
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it is important especially for the nations in the e.u. on the eastern edges of the continent to speak up here. countries like poland, the baltics and hungary. this is part of a trend and if he continues to get away with it, who knows what is next. it's important for europe to stand together in the coming days. >> senator, thank you very much. >> thanks. if there's an international crisis heating up then as surely as night follows day, you'll be hearing this. >> every time the president goes on national television and threatens putin or anyone like putin, everybody's eyes roll, including mine. >> putin decides what he wants to do and he does it in half a day. he makes a decision and he executes it. quickly. then everybody reacts. that's what you call a leader. president obama, he's got to think about it, he's got to go over it again, he's got to talk to more people about it. >> the republicans attack on president obama when a very -- and a very weird case of putin envy, ahead. like our addictively creamy garlic asiago,
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we've been talking about what's happening in ukraine, but here at home, democracy also has its consequences. especially if you want to vote in a battleground state. i will explain, next. vo: volkswagen has the most vehicles on the road with over 100,000 miles. that's the power of german engineering. a 401(k) is the most sound way to go. let's talk asset allocation. sure. you seem knowledgeable, professional. would you trust me as your financial advisor? i would. i would indeed. well, let's be clear here. i'm actually a dj. [ dance music plays ] [laughs] no way! i have no financial experience at all. that really is you? if they're not a cfp pro, you just don't know. find a certified financial planner professional who's thoroughly vetted at letsmakeaplan.org. cfp -- work with the highest standard.
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this is the only plan in the state for voting hours that we could get consensus from democrats and republicans on. >> it calls for early voting monday through friday, 8:00 to 5:00 for the four weeks in october as well as the last saturday in october and the first saturday in november 8:00 to 4:00. but critics, including peg rosenfield of the league of women voters, say there should be evening hours as well as some sundays. >> you may have just felt an odd sensation of chilling deja vu after seeing that recent footage
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about voting hours in the still hugely decisive perennial battleground state of ohio. because just like in those terminator movies when the seemingly defeated cyborg rises up to keep on terminating, the cold, calculating attempt to restrict voting has risen once again in the state of ohio. in the hands of ohio secretary of state john husted, we are in for a very serious sequel. you see, mr. hufted, under the guise of uniform voting hours that are standard for all the counties in ohio. here is the problem. the more populous counties really do need weeknights and extra weekend days to offer everyone a chance to vote without disastrously long lines. here's peg rosenfield of the league of women voters. >> about eight or ten urban counties, who are the ones who need the extra hours, and we have 80 rural counties who don't need it. so i'm sure the rural counties are perfectly happy with these
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hours and the urban counties have been outvoted. >> and that gets to the heart of the problem. it is an unfortunate fact that in these pitched battles over voting rights only one party has a clear political incentive to restrict how many people vote. it's the republican party. because more or less higher turnout always favors democrats and so republican state majorities around the country have every interest to restrict the availability of the vote. that is precisely what they have set about doing. and in ohio, get this, two years ago republicans tried to do just that and it was secretary of state john husted who limited early voting on the weekend before the election to military personnel only. >> john husted has to feel like a twisted pretzel right now. the election is five weeks from today and he's been hammered with disagreements over the hours of early in-person voting and voting the weekend before the november 6th election. >> husted bristles at the suggestion he's tried to suppress voter rights. >> so it's a lot easier to vote in ohio than it is in most
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states and, frankly, people should pipe down the rhetoric. >> the state democratic party and the obama campaign armed with lawyers fought back and filed a lawsuit and a federal judge intervened, ordering the state to give all voters the right to cast their votes in person on the final three days before the election day, including that sunday. the u.s. supreme court rejected an appeal by republicans. that was the precedent. normal politics at the state level are no protection for the interest of voters who tend to be excluded by these voting restrictions. those rights, as we've learned, in case after case, not the least of which in ohio two years ago, those rights must be protected by the courts. and that's why my next guest is taking his case to court for a rematch with secretary of state husted, joining me is ed fitzgerald. ed, husted says, look, we've got a ton of early voting and republicans in the state are saying it's very expensive to keep this open. they're also saying this is bipartisan consensus, we solicited opinions.
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what's your beef here? >> we're not dealing with this problem in a vacuum. we know what happens when we don't have extensive early voting in ohio. the world has a videotape of what it looked like in 2004 in ohio when we didn't have evening voting, when we didn't have voting on the sunday before elections. and this is predictable what's going to happen. and so there has clearly been a consensus among the voters themselves that they want to have these expanded hours because they have been using them in overwhelming numbers and, chris, it's been working. we've had several elections in a row where we haven't had long lines at the polls, where people have been able to exercise their franchise. the problem from the republican point of view is they haven't always gotten the results that they want from those elections and so they want to change the rules again. >> i want to play the ohio gop chairman who appeared earlier to make the argument that it was too costly. take a listen. >> having government offices open on weekends is an unusual thing. try to go to the post office on a weekend or try to go visit
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your congressman's office on a weekend, on a sunday. they're almost never open. having to pay these folks overtime, all of this burden falls on the local elections officials. they're the ones who came to us. they're the ones who came to the secretary of state and to the legislature and asked for some relief. >> your response to that? >> it is just absolutely absurd. first of all, how do you put a price tag on democracy? we know what happens when we don't fund these things appropriately. the state has a $60 billion plus budget. they can't find a way to help fund this? the ironic thing is, chris, that those counties that said they would pick up the cost like my county, one of the things that this legislation does is it prevents us from spending our own money that we budgeted for these purposes. >> repeat that again. >> one of the things that the legislation that was just passed by the legislature and it was just signed into law by the governor, it prohibits local boards of elections from funding, for instance, some of these things on their own, including the mailing of absentee ballot applications. >> so the gop is making the
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argument this is about costs. >> right. >> this is unaffordable. you, as the person that represents the actual county that's implementing this is saying you can pay for it and the state law signed by republicans prohibits you from making that decision to pay for this because you assess it's a need? >> that's exactly right. the litigation that you referenced, chris, back in 2012, my county was a party to that because we didn't want the republicans to make that false argument from the court, so we actually joined in that lawsuit to tell the federal court hey, listen, this argument that they're making is complete baloney. we are willing to fund these things. we've already budgeted it. we want to be able to do this because our constituents, democrats and republicans, are asking us to do this. so it's a completely disingenuous argument on their part and they know it. >> what is the argument you're making in the lawsuit here? what is the constitutional or statutory claim you're making before the court? >> sure. i think it's very similar to what you saw in 2012. it's basically pretty simple, that the voting franchise is
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sacred, it's special. we know what happens when we don't make full accommodations for voters like we did back in 2004. especially in urban areas where you have multiple precincts that are combined in one location, where you've had people waiting until 2:00 in the morning to have to vote. their franchise, chris, is effectively denied by these long lines at the polls. this is a disease that we know what the cure is for. and we have a chance to do it. we should bow allowed to do so >> we should be allowed to do so. >> cuyahoga county executive ed fitzgerald. also a gubernatorial candidate in that state. thank you so much. >> thank you. okay. coming up -- >> what i think it is with the dnc, with others both in the state and across the country is they desperately want something negative to happen in wisconsin. the reality is we're going to stay focused on the things we were elected to do. >> staying focused on the things we were elected to do like, oh, i don't know, mocking welfare recipients when you're running for governor and then running the welfare program into the ground while you were governor? i'll explain, next.
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we've been reporting on the massive amount of documents that have come out from the inner circle of wisconsin governor scott walker. the inheriter of gop establishment front runner mantle in the wake of new jersey governor chris christie's demise. the problem, as we've noted, is that walker's got his own baggage. now, we've been going through these e-mails and there have been some that suggest that walker knew more than he let on about the mixing of official governing and campaigning that
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some of his staff were convicted for because, well, it is illegal in wisconsin. but to my mind the most damning documents are these right wing e-mail forwards that were sent amongst his staff, particularly this one. this morning i went to sign my dogs up for welfare. at first the lady said dogs are not able to draw welfare so i explained to her my dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak english and have no frigging clue who their daddies are. expect me to feed them, provide them with housing, medical care and feel guilty because they are dogs. so she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify. my dogs get their first checks on friday, damn, this is a great country. well, joan walsh has a great piece that shows why this kind of thing matters. you may think it's offensive but it's a private e-mail from a deputy chief of staff. here's why it's important. at the same time that walker's staff were sending those hate-filled e-mail, walker's staff were campaigning to govern
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the entire state of wisconsin, which spends more than a billion dollars on its state food stamp program alone and that helps feed nearly a million people a month. states play a crucial role in the management of public assistance programs, determining eligibility, delivering services, responding to complaints. as it turns out scott walker was governing a place that did just that, only on a smaller scale. welcome to milwaukee county, where in 2010 walker's last full year as county executive, the poverty rate was 21.5%. that's nearly seven points higher than the national average at the time. how would you predict a government that has its top staffers sending around an e-mail like this, how would you predict they perform when it comes to delivering necessary services like food, health care and child care benefits? well, if you guessed poorly, you are correct. the ugly truth, it was disastrous. in fact so bad the walker administration was sued for their performance. here's some numbers from walker's eight years as
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milwaukee county executive. according to a state memo, only 5% out of hundreds of thousands of calls to the public assistance office were answered every month, a direct result of walker understaffing those offices. only 30% of benefit applications were processed within the required seven-daytime frame, making some families wait weeks or months for aid they urgently needed. nearly two-thirds of people who were denied food or health care benefits were approved upon appeal. and nearly one in five eligible applicants were cut off from the program entirely. in fact those numbers were so bad it led the state of wisconsin to take drastic, unprecedented measures. the state took over administering public assistance for all of milwaukee county. while walker was running milwaukee county. now, here's a cardinal rule in american politics, one that we ignore all the time. do not elect people to run a government who demonstrate a fundamental contempt for what that government does.
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do not put people in charge of the mechanisms of the state, of the administration of its social services who hate it to begin with in the first place and who bear contempt for its beneficiaries. i do not know how many times we have to learn this lesson. but there it is in black and white. the people of milwaukee county learned that lesson before the entire state of wisconsin had to. well, did you know the ancient pyramids were actually a mistake? uh-oh. geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. [ male announcer ] nothing says, "you're my #1 copilot," like a milk-bone biscuit. ♪
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ground law. following the tragic deaths of trayvon martin and jordan davis. but this session florida lawmakers are poised not to repeal stand your ground but expand it, or as they say, clarify. they're going about it in an interesting way. if you ask lawmakers why they're looking to expand the state's very controversial stand your ground law to include a so-called warning shot exemption, they say it has something to do with this woman, marissa alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing what she says was a warning shot at her abusive husband. late last year a judge ordered a retrial saying the jury received the wrong instructions and this summer she will get that trial. the state's attorney has said she could face 60 years in prison. we're going to bring you that story and a special look at the intricacies of florida tomorrow.
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and a 30-tablet free trial. (music) defiance is in our bones. defiance never grows old. citracal maximum. calcium citrate plus d. highly soluble, easily absorbed. there's a debate right now amongst commentators and foreign policy types about what exactly kind of action should be taken in response to the situation in ukraine. largely because it's a difficult one and it's changing practically by the minute. we're dealing with the specter of war and the risk of a country being torn apart. what there does seem to be a consensus on is this situation is the fruit of barack obama's weakness, as if it were the case that if only barack obama, like vladimir putin, rode around on a
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horse with his shirt off like this, maybe this kind of thing wouldn't have happened. or as "the new york times" peter baker asks in his piece yesterday, is mr. obama tough enough to take on the former kgb colonel in the kremlin. >> we have a weak and indecisive president. that invites aggression. president obama needs to do something. >> i think everybody is shocked by the weakness of obama's statement. it is -- i find it rather staggering. what he's saying is we're not really going to do anything and we're telling the world. >> putin is playing chess and i think we're playing marbles. i don't think it's even close. they have been running circles around us. >> this is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in america's strength anymore. >> do you believe with some of your colleagues who say it's the weakness of president obama and the united states right now that has emboldened president putin of russia? >> i think our policy towards russia under this administration deserves a heavy amount of criticism. >> what we've got in putin is a man with a strategic vision and an autocratic mentality.
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in obama we've got a weak, feckless, inattentive president who not only doesn't know what america's interests are, i don't think particularly cares about american national security. >> doesn't care about national security of america. and the editorial board at the "washington post" they cobbled together several hundred words insisting that obama do something about ukraine as mr. putin ponders whether to advance further into ukraine, he will measure the seriousness of the u.s. and allied actions, not their statements. they failed to give one concrete policy suggestion, the premise being it's all about projection and theatrics and how the president performs in his role as international tough guy. because there's no way putin would into what he did if we had a tough guy in the white house. of course the last time putin did something like this was when he invaded the country of georgia when this guy was in the white house. would anybody say that george w.
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bush didn't project toughness or resolve or willingness to use violence and force? of course not because what guided putin then appears to be the same thing that guides him now. a man focused on maintaining russia's influence around its former states. joining me is colonel lawrence wilkerson, chief of staff at the state department during colin powell's term. currently a distinguished proffer of government and policy at the college of william and mary. colonel, i just -- i see this all the time. any time something flares up in an international crisis, this chorus about the performance of toughness, the performance of the theatrics of toughness or weakness, and i just remain unconvinced that that cashes out in any real way. >> chris, this has got a long history to it. of course it goes all the way back to what you were referring to, the ussr, russia and the czars before that. but it's got a relatively long history with us too. it goes back to george h.w. bush
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and jim baker telling at the end of the cold war cheffard nazi and gorbachev that nato would go not one inch further to the east and then a series of presidents coming in who not only took nato further to the east, pushed by lock heed martin and others who wanted to sell weapons to eastern and central european countries, but hinted at georgia and ukraine. anyone who knows russian history, anyone who knows the history of empire, anyone who knows about the raw politics of raw power could have guessed that president putin would move into ukraine once we had formed a group there led by the n.e.d. and its affiliates that effectively pulled off a coup. put ourselves in putin's shoes. what is putin to think when all of a sudden a country that's been talking about bringing ukraine and even georgia into
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nato and into the e.u. suddenly affects the removal of his oligarchic leader in kiev. if i were putin, i'd have done exactly what putin did. anyone that says they couldn't predict this was either a fool or lying. >> well, that gets at this deep question, i think. one of the things that i've seen in the analysis here is that this assumption that putin is winning this because he's grabbing this and the world is going to stand by and there's -- you know, there are limited -- there are certainly, i think, no military options in response to this. there are limited options in terms of how you impose a cost we discussed with senator murphy earlier. this idea that because putin is strong he's winning and because barack obama is weak he is not. but it also seems to me that this could be very likely disastrous for vladimir putin himself. >> oh, i think so. i think it could be the unwinding of his presidency. he saw this as a regime change essential because of such things as ukraine having so much of the russian food product and if it
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became affiliated with the e.u., the commodity prices would probably balance out in the e.u. and become unaffordable for russia. he saw it as a way to deflect attention from a crumbling economy in russia right now. so this is a move that as i said could have been predicted, but it's a move that i think is going back fire. so what's necessary here is the kind of action, nonmilitary action that other of your guests have suggested, economic measures and so forth, pressure from europeans in particular, and, for example, maybe approach iran so we can start pumping iranian gas into europe and take some of the leverage away from putin. but in the long run this is going back fire on putin and it will take political and moral courage to let it do so, but that's what we should do. >> there's a lot of talk about how putin had some statement about the fall of the soviet
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empire being the worst thing that had happened in recent history, about the idea that he wants to recapture that kind of arrangement that russia had with the former soviet republics. it seems to me there's also a pent-up desire among a certain part of the american foreign policy apparatus and political spectrum for another cold war. that they are chomping at the bit to have a russian enemy like vladimir putin with whom they can wage another round of cold war. >> no question about it. i saw that in an administration where the vice president of the united states was trying to bring about a cold war again with china. he failed because my boss, colin powell, took over that account, arguably the most strategic account the u.s. has, and managed it quite well for four years. so he was unable to do that. but there is a group out there called the neo conservatives, call them anything you like, lindsey graham, john mccain and others from my party seem to be
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the spokespersons for this group, who want another cold war. they're comfortable in this kind of tension, this kind of standoff between great powers. >> colonel lawrence wilkerson, always a pleasure. thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. did vladimir putin invade crimea because he could? and how much do these vaporous qualities of perceived resolve and strength matter to the man at the center of this crisis? that's ahead. travels the world inventing amazing new cleaners, like his newest invention, liquid muscle, that lifts and cleans tough grease with less scrubbing. it's a liquid gel, so it's less watery and cleans more. and its cap stops by itself so almost nothing's wasted. ♪ no matter where he went or who he helped, people couldn't thank him enough. new mr. clean liquid muscle. when it comes to clean, there's only one mr.
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we're back, joining me is senior editor at the new republic and josh rogen at the daily beast. they have both been covering this. julia, you wrote this piece where you said why is putin doing this? because he can. that's it, that's all you need to know. michael coe hen responding to that said it's as if things like regional interest, fears of -- and the potential loss of a key ally in kiev are alien concepts for russian leaders. how much of this do you view as
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rational and how much do you view as irrational? >> i'm not saying that he's irrational. i think vladimir putin operates within his own framework of logic. and all of this stuff matters but it has always mattered. what happened was there was a moment of political instability in kiev. he was a little bit rattled by people toppling an elected president. he tends to see these things through a very personal lens. he was, for example, hugely obsessed with the way moammar gadhafi was killed in libya and he took advantage of a moment of weakness, pressed on it and it all came undone. >> does that moment of weakness -- my question is that moment of weakness is a structural feature of the geopolitical landscape or the fact that barack obama didn't say tougher-sounding things? >> i've been hearing this all day that had barack obama been stronger on syria or if he had smacked bashar al assad around, none of this would have happened.
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there's some truth to it, but i don't totally buy it. first of all, putin operates within a logic that, you know, the strongest guy in the room, that's the guy you go after. once you beat him up, then you're the strongest guy in the room. that's number one. number two, look at the strong and decisive president we had when he invaded another neighbor, the country of georgia. you couldn't ask for a more decisive president arguably and he blustered and he threatened and ultimately nobody wants to go to war with russia, which is right because that doesn't end well, but it didn't do anything. >> that's what i mean, josh. you talked to the president of georgia at the time in 2008 of that war between the two and that to me is the fundamental constraint on this whole thing is that no one is going to war with a nuclear russia in a former soviet republic, not going to happen. >> right.
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but that cuts both ways, what he told me today is following the russian invasion in 2008, no one in the west could credibly claim that we didn't believe putin was capable of this type of thing and we should have seen it coming and there were warnings, including warn made by him. as to what's putin's calculation, i think it's the nature of most autocratic regimes to be internally repressive and externally aggressive, right. the more putin feels insecure, the more he lashes out. there are some criticisms of the obama administration's handling of this crisis. they underestimated putin's resolve to hold on to ukraine. and so speaking -- >> but take a step back. let's say they had seen it coming and they hadn't made the miscalculation you're accusing them of making. what does that cash out in as actual intervention that stopped this from happening? >> right. so we can go as far back as you want to go. if you want to go back to the beginning of the ukrainian revolution a couple of months ago you would have seen it, especially through the phone call that was released by the
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russians that we were working this problem without consultation with the russians. we were working with the europeans and didn't want the russians to know what's going on. was it realistic to think that we could solve the ukrainian crisis between the opposition and the yanukovych government and get it past russia? how did that work out? >> that's not what caused this. that's not what caused this. and i don't -- i still don't -- you know, i think you're right, there are legitimate criticisms to be made of the obama administration's handling of this, but still i really don't think there's anything they could have done to prevent this. i think we greatly overestimate american ability to influence events in this part of the world and putin knows that and that's why he's acting the way he is. >> i totally agree with julia that this is not about us, this is putin's decision. the ukrainians are the main actors and we play a limited role and that's totally valid. at the same time the broader
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criticisms of the obama administration forecast policy, who you take out the breathy rhetoric, they boil down to this. the obama administration has lost credibility around the world. their reactions to a host of revolutions especially during the arab spring have been seen as ad hoc and very hard to understand. they have ruined relationships with allies with the lack of consultations and there is a perception of a lack of leadership and obama, if you read his bloomberg interview today, doesn't acknowledge that perception. >> i think the ad hocness is something that i've heard a lot of. and i guess what i feel coming out of this is that if the choice is between some sort of rigid dogmatic theoretical framework to understand all of this or ad hoc in relation to a bunch of revolutions that had been ad hoc in the way they pinged around the world, you know, that -- i feel like i choose the latter if i am forced between them. and this is key, it's very hard for me -- i think what julia said before is key. we have to as a first condition recognize what our limitations
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are as influence in how these events unfold. julia, josh, thank you both. that is all for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. >> thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. not to be put too fine a point on it, but this is being called the most serious crisis for europe since the fall of the berlin wall, end quote. and it's not just some hyperventilating jerk on television or some partisan calling it that, it's berlin. home of the berlin wall. it was the foreign minister from germany who said today that this is the most serious crisis since the berlin wall came down. foreign ministers of all the european union countries, including germany, met today in emergency session in brussels to try to figure out how the rest of the world is going to respond to what russia has just done in ukraine. when the berlin wall did fall in 1989, it started this chaotic centrifugal process by which the soviet union spun off into russia and all these new

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